The following is an interview with Russ Barksdale, Lead Pastor of The Church on Rush Creek in Arlington, Texas, where he has served since 1994. He also coaches churches as a MultiSite Solutions Associate.
Russ Barksdale transitioned Rush Creek from a traditional church model to a contemporary model, launched a second campus and added a third campus through a merger. These three campuses now average over 3,200 individuals on a weekend with more mergers on the way.
He says the difference between multisiting by birthing a campus and adopting an existing church is “the difference between having a baby and adopting a teenager!” Russ has developed a strategy to adopt stuck and struggling churches within 30 miles of his church and talks about it in the embedded video.
1. Tell us about the Church on Rush Creek?
The Church on Rush Creek is a multisite church, presently with three campuses. We hope to add many more in the years to come. We don’t do video venues; we love having on-site pastors teaching each week. All our sermon series are planned by our three campus pastors to make sure there is alignment each week. Our mission is to help people far from God become contagious followers of Jesus.
Our vision is to become more like Jesus so that we can be Jesus to the overwhelmed, the under-resourced and the far away from God. We are a fairly adaptable congregation. The only constant, as we say, is change. A church’s ability to advance the gospel depends on its members’ willingness to sacrifice.
2. How did Rush Creek become a multisite church?
After transitioning Rush Creek from a traditional style to a contemporary style from 1994-2003, we set our sights on birthing a second campus in 2004. It began in a school and grew for eight years before we finally purchased land and built a facility for it in 2012. In 2012 another local church meeting in a school merged with us, which recently moved into a 24-7 facility.
3. What are the advantages of multisiting through mergers?
We’re excited about adopting churches within a 30-mile radius of us. We know there are many, many churches that are struggling to stay alive and keep their doors open. We want to come alongside them and help. Typically they were vibrant churches at one time, but for whatever reason, they have fallen on tough times. Often it is because the community around them has changed dramatically and they haven’t been able to adapt.
We want to bring them onto our team, into our fellowship, assess the needs and infuse life into that church once again. The advantage is that there is already a legacy, already a building and already a remnant—all three can be advantageous to growing a congregation from a merger.